Digital sharing with a purpose

We live in a world full of ‘likes’, ‘+1s’, tweets, and shares. It’s a big part of the ‘social’ in social media. We consume content and then we share that content with our friends, family, colleagues, and community.Sharing is Caring.

But I’ll admit, sometimes I’m overwhelmed with all the content shared with me. The volume of information can quickly replace existing news sources. Think about that for a minute. Many people have a  designated place to get “news” in their life. Maybe they glance at the home page of the local newspaper. Maybe they visit CNN, Fox News, or some other online media news source. It could be a series of sites that are setup on a portal landing page like Yahoo or iGoogle. Maybe it’s even a RSS reader with a list of media sites like blogs, media outlets, and thought leadership.

Sharing disrupts that intention. When you follow content that has been shared with you, inevitably it takes time away from the consuming the content in your original spaces. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  I think the answer, as usual, is that it depends.

Getting outside your normal content consumption areas can be a good thing, a very good thing.  For example, most of my chosen content is about technology, digital marketing, or eCommerce. But by following a share from a friend, I may find myself reading about the banking industry, horticulture, or the arts.  It’s important because switching content like that provides new ideas, different perspectives, and exposure to thought that I wouldn’t normally read.

The trick is to make the best use of this time right? If you find yourself following links and shares and consuming content but not getting value out of it, is it worth it? Unfortunately, that’s part of the territory of following shared links. The way to deal with this is to leave content that is not engaging to you.  For me, it’s apparent within the first couple of paragraphs of an article or the first few minutes of a video piece, if I will get any value from the content. If I’m connecting with a piece then I leave.

Bottom line, I believe there is potential value in all the content that is shared with you or that you might share with others. With that said though, I think we should exercise restraint when sharing content with others. Nobody likes too much shared content from a single source. It starts to feel like spam. So here are two quick rules I try to follow:

  1. Share content because it is specific to something I know about the person or group. I like to put it in context for the recipients.
  1. Share the content because it is specific to a recent conversation I had with a person or group. It’s a great way to follow-up on a conversation and provide additional thoughts or value.

How do you share and consume content with your friends, family, and connections?